R-Type is one of the most popular side scrolling shoot 'em up games developed by Irem for the arcades in 1987. It became popular for its creative world-view and game system and was converted on various video game consoles and home computers!
STORY / GAMEPLAY The story takes place somewhere in the 22nd century! You fly a futuristic fighter craft called the R-9a "Arrowhead". The craft's name is based on its shape and because it is the ninth model in the 'R' series of fighter aircrafts. The main mission is to blast and destroy the evil Bydo Empire (and its fleets). Basically, you have to shoot everything that moves -with most aliens shooting back at you while others just get on your way to instantly kill you upon contact. The backgrounds look like tunnels (or caverns) that have a "ceiling" and a "floor" outcropping in places! These can also be dangerous since you can easily crash your R-9a. Some of the sprites are pretty large, like the giant spinning wheel monster that awaits near the end of the first level where you actually have to get your ship inside it and shoot it in the eye to close its account. And be sure that there are a lot of even bigger (and far more difficult) alien monsters to confront! The rapid presses on the fire button produce standard laser bursts, but should you require a bit more firepower you must hold the button for 3 seconds to charge and blast a bigger shot which will pierce and kill everything into its range. It is absolutely necessary to also collect an extra bonus shield (a sort of a second aircraft) that shoots and can be unleashed to kill everything on sight. Overall, R-Type is extremely difficult (frustratingly difficult actually) since you can easily lose lives and -the worst of all- if you are shot down, you re-spawn at the beginning of the level (very unfair in my opinion)! Actually the whole game is unfairly tough!
GRAPHICS / SOUND The Commodore port is an excellent example of a successful arcade conversion and technically is superior to its 8bit counterparts. The sprites themselves move beautifully and fast and some of them are really big! The graphics are nice, colorful, keeping most of the original details. I really enjoyed the background scrolling which moves smoothly in contrast to the incredibly choppy scrolling on the CPC (and MSX, ZX) conversions. Note that the MSX version is technically equally good too. The C64 sound is one of its main advantages as it offers an awesome main-menu and gameplay tune, taken from the original (and also found on the Amiga/ST versions) but there are no SFX. Note that the sound is poor on CPC and ZX computerss, being almost soundless, while the MSX version offers the original in-game tune.